11:22 AM

Gamers, developers come to UHCL for tournament

For two days in December, about 40 Warhammer 40K enthusiasts and 150 other gamers spent many hours at University of Houston-Clear Lake participating in the Holiday Gaming Thing and Warhammer 40K Rise of the Empire Grand Tournament. Associate Professor of Psychology Steven Sutherland, who is also the director for UH-Clear Lake's new Serious Games and Simulations bachelor's degree program, said the event was about much more than playing games.

"We put together two days of gaming for players and developers after I spoke with someone at a local game store about finding space to play a Warhammer 40K tournament at UHCL," Sutherland said. "With our new SGS degree, I wanted to find ways to connect us with our local gaming community and bring them to campus."

Sutherland said they started the gaming weekend with Warhammer 40K, a large tabletop game with miniatures that move only in certain patterns and distances, according to the game. "We had a live streamer come in and stream our event on YouTube, and it received over 3,000 views," he said. "The person who won is the third-ranked player in the world, and he donated his prize money back to the Warhammer group to give to kids trying to get into the game, so that's another positive impact that came from the event."

Sutherland said he hoped the event would plant seeds in the community about UHCL's SGS degree, as well as facilitate engagement with industry and ties to the local gaming community. "This is not just about playing games but about developing games and how that can lead to long-term career plans," he said. "We hope to recruit people from those environments into our program."

He added that he was in talks to start a Game Theory Expo in summer 2022. "We would like to bring in a large number of designers to our campus, allow them to showcase their games, and have a panel of faculty and other academics to discuss how their disciplines can be used to improve games," he said. "We also hope to highlight that we developed our degree program across all four of our colleges, heighten our engagement with the community about it, and increase the use of teaching through games."

UHCL's Bachelor of Arts in Serious Games and Simulations is a newly-offered degree program that includes courses from across multiple disciplines to become leaders with diverse experience to lead in the development, design and testing of serious games.